The Culture Iceberg

The Culture Iceberg


I know you’ve got an analogy around an iceberg
and culture. Talk to me about that. Thanks, Max. I think the reason we created the iceberg
analogy to match the kind of work we do is because a lot of people spend time in systems
change area recreating policy or what we call, “shifting the deck chairs around the titanic.”
where actually nothing shifts except the position of people and you spend a lot of time going
through shifting things around but actually what really hasn’t changed is the behavior
or the beliefs of people. So what we talk about with the cultural iceberg
is that above the surface we see the policies, the systems. Everything we say we do, that sits above us. And we see that. The next layer down just directly under the
water is called—what we sort of say, this is your behavior, this is what you really
do. So, you might say do something above the iceberg
but your behavior is quite different when you’re really doing it yourself. And then finally, what drives us? What’s in our gut, what’s our belief about
whether—whether things can change or not? So, a good example I can give is that I was
working with a senior leadership team member for about a year and a half, and 18 months
into the whole change process she said, “actually I don’t believe that, um, the way that we’re
thinking about things actually really does make a difference, I really need to know if
we’re successful by one measure. And so, what we’re saying is, that measure
only shows you one piece of the iceberg we want to see the whole lot and actually understand
why our behavior is—why we do things the way we do. Part of the change process is that when people
internalize what they’re doing and understand the why, why they believe it, then they have
a chance to actually explore and understand their conceptual ideas and really think them.

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